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Final Fantasy IX – A Review

I know this might be a little late, but 15 years ago I was 10 and blogging/reviews were far from my mind. I was more concerned with ignoring my homework and actually playing this game! What game? Why, Final Fantasy IX, of course!

I am writing this because frankly I still think (as fore mentioned, 15 years later) that Final Fantasy IX is the best Final Fantasy game to date.

I can already hear angry people typing in the comments saying “What?! How can you say that?! Final Fantasy (insert number here, most likely VII) was the definitive Final Fantasy game!!!” and I say to you that yes, Final Fantasy (insert number here, most likely still VII) was fantastic, and I really enjoy that too. Final Fantasy VII, certainly, has been the most successful of the Final Fantasy having spin-off games, anime shows and, hell, even movies made from it! And what a movie it is, Advent Children is amazing! But I still prefer Final Fantasy IX. Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

The Story

The storyline of Final Fantasy IX is great. It’s gripping, it’s exciting and, at some moments, it’s heart-breaking. If you do play it for a long period of time, you get so invested in the story and the characters. I never found any part of it dull or boring, it always gripped me. It also felt the most fantasy-y of the games, since there were characters that were animals, such as birds, leopards and rats walking and talking, I always liked that. This was due to the creators wanting to go back to their roots of more fantastical characters compared to their more recent games which went for realism (such as VII and VIII). And, honestly, as a kid who played it, I quite liked it. I watched my older brother play VIII and, aside from the grumpy, emo main character (sorry Squall, but I speak only the truth), it was quite interesting. Unfortunately, even now when I play it years later, my interest wanes somewhere on disc two of four. Final Fantasy IX however keeps me gripped throughout all its four discs. It’s one of those stories, in my opinion, that never gets dull, no matter how many times you hear it.

The Characters

So great do I find the characters that I based an email address I made when I was about 12 on the main character, Zidane Tribal. I still have and use that email address! And it infuriates me when people think it’s because of that French footballer. To think that I would like football? Madness. And who can’t love Vivi? That little legend is an utter powerhouse when it comes to Black Magic! Who hasn’t routed for him? Who hasn’t laughed at Steiner for being a pompous, arrogant arse? Who hasn’t wanted to comfort Garnet in her traumatic and tragic journey through the lands? So many diverse, entertaining characters, I love them all. But what is even better, every character has some development throughout the story. Zidane finds the truth of his past, and it gets darker. Vivi discovers the truth behind his origin. Garnet sees her Mother change, and her priorities change. Steiner removes the veil over his eyes and sees the truth (finally, man he really is blind sometimes!). And that’s just the main four! There are eight playable characters, and they each have their own little world that changes throughout the game.

The Music

This game has, without a doubt, some of the greatest music in video gaming that has ever existed. It is definitely in my top five game soundtracks of all time. I listen to it at least once a month. It is memorable, it is well scored and never fails to make you feel. There are some pieces of music in the soundtrack that, without needing to see the tragic moments that are happening on screen, to make you feel the emotion behind it. There is one track called “Black Mage vs. Black Mage”, in which scene an evil Black Mage slaughters its own kind in an act of pure psychotic madness, only to be witnessed by Vivi, our own loveable black mage who sees all those mages die. Their crime? Trying to protect Vivi. If you were to watch the cut scene (check out this cheeky link), you would agree that this music fit perfectly. Every time I listen to it, I get goose bumps. Every single time. And every track is like that. Seriously! Go listen to it and tell me I am wrong. I dare you!

The Fights

Ah, the epic fighting system (and music!). The fighting system that Final Fantasy XIII absolutely butchered and ruined, which completely threw me off the game which is on my shelf collecting dust! The fights were amazing, along with the great battle music, weapons, magic and Eidolons. Each character would have an ATB which charged up, and when it was full the character could execute a move: Attack, Magic/Steal, Skill or Item. Once that move was executed, the ATB would empty and it would start charging again. Brilliant. Made better only by the fact that in the game settings, you could change it from “Active” to “Wait”, which meant that if you chose “Active”, when the ATB was full and you started to make a move, the action would continue in the background. The enemy could attack and other characters ATB would continue charging. But if you selected “Wait”, if an ATB filled up, the other ATB’s would stop charging and gameplay would “Wait” for you to select a move. This was recommended for beginners, and I thought that was really nice of them. This setting could also be changed at any time. Fantastic! I really liked that feature.

The Gameplay

Final Fantasy VIII had a weird mechanic where you could only have a party of three and if you did have party members, they would follow behind you on screen. I’m not entirely sure why, but I used to like it. Now I do not. If Squall, or whichever character you were controlling at the time, did some funny moves because you went mental on the controller, the characters following you would copy your moves exactly. I hated that! It was very unrealistic. And yes, I did just use the word “unrealistic” in a blog post about Final Fantasy but I don’t care! It was a sharp reminder that you are someone sitting in front of a screen playing a computer game. It ruined the immersion, it would shatter that small part of you that was right there in Balamb next to Squall, Zell and Selphie fighting bad guys like Seifer. You don’t get that in Final Fantasy IX, you are all lumped together in the lead party member (decided for you by the game, it depended on who’s story arc you were following at the time).

You also had so many different abilities you could learn from the different items you could equip to your character, which gave the game another layer of complexity. If you stuck with it and kept some crappy items equip long enough to learn the ability associated with that item, your character would have another trick up their sleeve, which will absolutely make the different between life and death at some point in the game.

All in all, 10/10 in my opinion!

I recently went on a binge of the music of Final Fantasy IX. I listened to it all day every day for five days and I bloody loved it! But all it made me want to do is play it, and I couldn’t because I was at work instead. We would all prefer to be at home playing our favourite video game than be at work, but I also know that we would all prefer to have roofs over our heads and food in the fridge than out on the street without a TV on which to play the video games we love so much!

In fact, this past weekend, I did play some Final Fantasy IX from the beginning, and it was amazing! Still love it so, and yes I will be playing more tonight!

But in all honesty, I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolutions post that I had a YouTube channel on which I record Let’s Plays videos, and I have no doubt that when I have a bit more time and after I finish another long series of videos I am making, I will start playing Final Fantasy IX and record it too! That should be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it!

Have you ever played Final Fantasy? Which one did you play? And why did you love it so? Or do you agree/disagree about my opinion on Final Fantasy IX? Let me know in comments!

Have a good day guys!

Published inGamingReviews

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